FILED IN: Parenting

Are you a Promo-Mom?

I don’t have enough to do so I’m adding a new blog and possibly a part-time, online job to my to-do list. So in between checking things off and checking them twice, I wonder – will the lure of traffic and trackbacks, tweets and stumbles, pings and links, as well as five nanoseconds of cyber-fame going to turn me into a Promo-Mom – the kind of look-at-me mommy blogger I like least? Or can I find and maintain that elusive balance and end up somewhere between obscurity and P.T. Barnum?

As a blogger and published writer for the past four years, I’m OK with a modicum of shameless self-promotion. Tweet your post. Go ahead. I do it, too. Put buttons on your blog so you’re followed and fanned and Kirtsy’d and Buzzed and Dugg. Those social media tools give readers the option to share what they’ve read with the people they know – and even those they don’t. And the buttons make it easy and leave the discretion to the reader.

I have links on my writing blog to my published essays and columns. I put links in my posts. There are links in this column. If you want to read more, it’s there and it’s one click away. If you don’t, you don’t. Frankly, I’ll never know. What I struggle with are mommy bloggers who ask for traffic and comments and social media pings simply because they have blogged something – anything at all.

I have acquiesced on occasion – when I felt the post warranted extra attention – but for the most part I don’t like being told what to do.

You say: Stumble me!

I say: No.

You say: Tweet me!

I say: No.

Kirsty!

No!

Retweet!

No! No!

But…write a fabulous blog post about something really interesting and useful or funny and sweet or sad and poignant? Tweet and retweet interesting things you’ve read around the world wide web? Establish yourself as a credible source of solid information or at the very least a damn good story — and you don’t have to be a Promo-Mom asking me to do anything — because I’ve already done it. It’s my pleasure to do so. Perhaps as a big fan of blogs and social media devotee, it’s my duty to use Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Buzz, FriendFeed, Delicious and all the other promotional tools at my fingertips. And sometimes I even email regular old-fashioned links to my friends who are not plugged in and stuffed full of online goodness.

Because I want the first-class content to overtake the internet.

Last week I wanted to tell my real life and online friends about my guest post on New York Times online, so I Tweeted. And I posted. And I added it to my Facebook status. I faltered a bit wondering if it would be seen as bragging. I sent notes to my online friends because I knew there were a few of them who would be happy for me. I was humbled by the Facebook statuses and Retweets and the comments. I did not expect it – yet it was welcome. As a writer, I want to be read. I hope that my writing offers something – even if it isn’t a free diaper bag.

I have had a few giveaways on my blog. I gave away books – and an eco-friendly tote. I gave away a set of DVDs around the holidays. And I used some of the social media available to me to promote those giveaways because I wanted to give things away.

I don’t think that made me a Promo-Mom.

I sometimes review books — most of the times they are books I’ve purchased or borrowed. If they are books I’ve gotten for free I mention that (and so far it has only happened once). And I share my thoughts on the books because I want people to read good books not because I am promoting myself as book reviewer or even looking for more free books. There are fabulous book review blogs and I love them – that’s not me.

Promo-Moms are the ones who want you to read their blog posts because they wrote them and they’re more concerned with traffic and numbers than the quality of their content. For some, running contests and giveaways is enough. Many bloggers earn money based on hits, so therefore they want as many as possible. I get that. It’s not what interests me, but I get it.

Some blogs are a business. They need readers to make money. I get that too.

I want people to read what I write and I want them to come back for more. But I don’t want to be a Promo-Mom. No bloggy-cards. No blog name embroidered across the bottom of my non-mom jeans. No empty tweets. No requests for Stumbles.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I want to grow my blogs organically…the bloggers I admire most are the ones who give to their online communities and ask for nothing in return except maybe the occasional bit of advice or the annual blog award vote. I’m not saying never-ever promote, but promote as a way to give something to the blogosphere. Because the more you give – the more you get. I started blogging when the only thing you could do to get traffic was add yourself to blog lists and blog rolls and hook yourself up with Technorati.

Ah, the good old days.

Blogging has gotten so complicated and we tend forget one simple fact — if you write well, they will come. But more importantly – we hope – they will stay.

I will continue to read and comment on blogs as much as possible. I will keep finding new blogs I enjoy. I want to be part of the community and part of the conversation. Promo-Moms are often too busy bringing folks in to go out and become part of the community what they want to lead. It doesn’t have to be always, but I think it needs to be sometimes.

I’m determined to find my online equilibrium and not be blinded by Sitemeter or the lure of the gazillionth Twitter follower.

Wish me luck.